Sunday, March 16, 2008

Christians trying to destroy education altogether in Oklahoma

What do you do when those damn pesky facts keep throwing cold water on your precious, precious Bronze Age superstitions? Why, just rewrite the law so that no facts can be taught in classrooms, ever.

This is the goal of HB 2211 — named, with typical Christian-martyr self-absorption, the "Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act" — in Oklahoma, which essentially allows any stupid fundie student to substitute "Duhhhhh...Goddidit!!!1!" in lieu of the correct answer on any test or homework assignment, and, by law, a teacher could not grade that answer as incorrect! I am not shitting you!

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student's belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation.

Whatever shenanigans Kansas has ever gotten up to in the past will look like tiddlywinks compared to this, people. This is a bill that renders the practice of education itself pointless.

And naturally, the damn thing has actually passed the House Education Committee. All of which argues for a state run by fools who are not merely anti-intellectual but actively hostile to knowledge. I may disagree with that wacky old lush Christopher Hitchens on many, many things. But on this point, he's hit nothing but net: Religion poisons everything. And here, we see religion poised to poison the educational standards of literally millions of young children in the worst way possible, by making it effectively impossible for any teacher in that state to teach them anything factual at all.*

So if little Trailer Park Timmy is asked on his American History exam, "Who was the first president of the United States?" and he answers, "Jesus!" that answer could not be counted as wrong.

And people whine about that horrible Professor Dawkins and how he dares to call religion a form of child abuse.

Oklahoma citizens, if any of you are reading this, it's time to get out the big guns. If you care, not only about your state's reputation, but about the future of your children and anything resembling truth and intellectual integrity at all, you need to be bombarding your state representatives and senators day and night with angry mails and phone calls expressing your dismay in no uncertain terms, that a piece of legislation this patently absurd and outrageous could even be written in the first place, let alone get passage out of committee, in this day and age. And remind them that it's 2008 C.E. (actually, you'd better use AD), not 2008 B.C.E.

Millions of minds are in the balance here.

Addendum: *Okay, I can see some readers responding to that part with "Hyperbole much?" After all, there's no reason to think that this bill would mean that students were suddenly not learning that 2+2=4 or that the Third Reich lost World War II if it were passed. Of course, this just illustrates more succinctly than ever that the whole purpose of the bill is — here we go again — to target science education specifically. Still, the way it's worded, it would be very easy to poison other courses apart from science if it actually passed. I can see the Reconstructionists using it to warp history curricula in order to reflect the "Christian nation" pseudohistory of America promoted by such groups as David Barton's Wallbuilders, for instance.

Suffice it to say that if HB 2211 does become law in Oklahoma, the ink won't be dry on the governor's signature before the federal lawsuits get filed. And then you'll have the entire course of education in that state needlessly disrupted as the Christian Right finds itself having to fight and lose yet another Dover. As Barbara Forrest pointed out when she spoke here last fall, all that these attempts by anti-science religionists actually achieve is the tearing apart of communities, the unnecessary waste of millions of dollars in legal fees, and the disruption, not enhancement, of the students' educations. It just isn't worth it.


  1. Wow, god help us all...if he existed. This is really scary.

  2. It's fucking stupid, that's what it is. Those would would pass such fuck-witted legislation are crooks who don't give a shit about education. The day such people find it impossible to secure places in government will be a very fine day.

    The sheer filth of fundamentalist tactics is simply mind-numbing.

  3. You know what? If the phrase weren't so horribly cliche and over-used in every day rhetoric, I would say that allowing children a licence to veto science and substitute it with "God did it" was political correctness.

  4. Every time I read about something as outrageously moronic as this, I can't help but think "Mmh... that crap would never happen here"(Mexico). Then there's a pause, then I do that thing where I raise my left eyebrow in puzzlement until it gets freakishly close to my hairline, then there's another pause and after that it hits me like a ton of bricks:

    "Wait, why the hell doesn't it happen here?"

    We're 90% Catholic(95% Christian, probably 99% theist, so cry me a river, guys =P); staunchly conservative, although 20-somethings tend to be much more liberal; our three major political parties are basically the Right, the Far Right and the Center-Right-but-we-do-some-lefty-things-once-in-a-while.

    With a political/social enviroment like that, you'd think we'd be up to our asses in "Intelligent Design this" and "teaching the controversy that" but there aren't even trace amounts of creationism in our schools, at least that was my experience.

    There was one Phys/Chem teacher in secondary who, when asked, gave us the old "first came creation, then evolution" nonsense but you could see how uncomfortable he was saying it, I still think he was just trying to avoid offending anyone so he probably just hedged his bet. Mind you, that was not even during the "official class". It was after, when he was "off-duty" and he still refused to talk about religion either for or against, reminding us that it was not appropriate to discuss it in a school science class.

    I've always wondered how Darwin could be treated so well whenever he comes over to visit our side of the Río Bravo(you guys call it the Rio Grande ^_^), considering my people's overwhelming religiousity. I can't say for certain, but I do have a little idea: it's because we've been there, done that and all we got was a lousy T-Shirt.

    Sometimes I forget that the RC Church used to control pretty much all aspects of education. Tithes were compulsory and the clergy wielded considerable influence in government policy-making. Not to mention the vast amount of privileges they were given.

    They enjoyed a long period of undeserved power, until Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías and a coalition of liberals gradually stripped the clergy and the military of their powers.

    It's kind of interesting to point out that, while Antonio López de Santa Anna was the actual president, it was VGF who made all of the decisions, ran the country and was the de facto President of the Republic due to President Santa Anna's lack of interest in the Presidency outside of the title. I believe he is said to have spent most of his term in his residence in Veracruz... clearing brush.

    Of course, conservatives screamed bloody murder and dragged Santa Anna's butt out of his ranch... um, I mean, his residence and he restored every single privilege. Thankfully, it didn't last long, because soon after came President Benito Juárez and started the Reform. in which they lost them again.

    A little "Did you know that...?": Juárez was not only a strong liberal and is one of the most admired politicians in Mexican history but was also the first indigenous leader of an American country since the Spanish Conquest. Not bad for a poor, orphan, shepperd boy who first went to the city when he was 12, not even speaking Spanish, huh? Sorry, major Mexican pride leak. =P

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to mixing State and Church, you guys are like our little brother happily playing with the neighbour's scary-looking dog, wondering why we won't join you. Well, there's a reason: the bastard bit us once when we where coming from school. =P

    Hell, we don't even allow clergymen, religious leaders or active members of the Armed Forces to run for office. North Americans are kinda spoiled, if I may be so bold. n_n With your Checks and Balances and your fancy, shiny Constitution made by the children of the Enlightenment. You've never had to deal with state-sanctioned religion and maybe Church-State separation has been taken for granted.

    I'm just finishing high school, so I may very well just be talking out of my bum but you wouldn't believe how spot on it all sounded at 4 AM.

    Holy hell, this ended up being obscenely long, I'm soooo sorry. Also, what the hell was up with that dog metaphor? With the way I tortured that analogy, I better stay the hell away from the Hague.

    My deepest apologies to the kind soul(s) who actually read all of that. You're much too kind. ^_^

    Warm wishes from México - Juan José


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